Lightning!

 

During the night, myself, Kyle and Jenny were kept busy with a thunderstorm, which battered County Durham! Kyle was at work and had to deal with a number of frightened boarders, while here at home, Jenny and I had to deal with a frightened Kyrlo and a frightened Mollie.  Both got lots of reassurance and cuddles, while at work, Kyle had to deal with several boarders who didn’t like the thunder.

The Met Office has issued more weather warnings for Thursday and Friday, so more thunder and lightning is expected.

If it’s anything like last night, The storm that is hitting the United Kingdom tomorrow and Friday should be spectacular

Toby’s Bathroom

 I have been working on getting a bathroom setup for Toby, who we foster. Toby has had a kidney transplant and needs help with his personal care. So I have been converting a box room, into a special bathroom, which also doubles as a extra bathroom for our kids.

First is the toilet. The toilet is a close coupled wc, which has been positioned so that either myself or Kyle can stand either side of the toilet. He also has a rail, so if he wants to stand and do the other end, he can hold the rail while one of us supports him to stand. We were going to put a folding rail in, but it would get in the way. (Especially Kyle is a larger lad) We decided not to install a loo roll holder, as the other boys don’t really use the loo and anyway, the roll holder would be too far from the wall.

At the side of the loo, is the draws with Toby’s supplies. (Catheter Bags, wipes, gloves, disposable aprons etc)

The sink has a mixer tap, which is the lever type. This makes it easier for Toby to wash his hands. There is now a shaver socket as well, which Toby can use when he is older, if he decides to dry shave. (The control switch for the shaver socket and the extractor fan are mounted above the outside of the door. The light switch is also outside the door. The walls are painted with white tiles that are half way up the wall. The top frieze has shell effects, which are cool.

The floor is cushioned Lino, which Toby chose. He chose Lino that looks like floor tiles and he chose the colour black, as it is his favorite.

The bathroom has spot lights, which are recessed in the ceiling and were a pain to install. (Our Electrician did that) So the bathroom is bright! The door opens outwards and also has a safety lock, which can be released with a 20 pence piece from outside.

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We’ve installed both a bath and a shower, as the kids like both. We can wheel in a hoist to get Toby in and out the bath and one of us can sit behind him in a little recess, behind the bath. There is a stabilizer underneath the bath, which controls the temperature of the water to the bath and the shower.

The shower is not a mixer shower connected to the taps on the bath. It has it’s own supply from under the bath and goes up a channel in the wall. The shower has a riser rail and is also thermostatic. The shower screen has toughened glass for safety. The bottom of the bath is also non slip for safety.

The bathroom is big enough, so we can wheel in the mobile hoist and using a sling, we can safely lift Toby in and out the bath, using a hoist. We were going to install a track hoist from his bedroom, across the hall and into the bathroom,  However, that would be major work and may of needed the joists strengthening. Not only is this costly, but Josh would have needed to move out his attic bedroom while we do the works. Plus we would of had to rip up his bedroom floor and made a massive mess.

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Over this weekend, our Electrician is installing an alarm cord by the bath and one by the toilet too. This project cost about £2,500 to do. I did most of the labour and out of that cost, it includes the labour and parts for the Electrician.

Now Toby has a adapted bathroom which meets his needs.  Kyle and I are proud of what we have built for Toby. He finally has a bathroom that was purpose built around his needs. We struggled to care for him in the current kids bathroom, as it is smaller and meant that it was harder to help him. For instance, we could not get either side of the toilet so we had to stand in front of him to lift him on and off the loo. The bath was not suitable for him, because we could not get the mobile hoist into the bathroom

Most of the time, he was getting strip washes in his bedroom, with a bath 2 – 3 times a week. During the day, he was having to use the downstairs toilet, (which he still uses) as it is adapted already.  At night, he was using a bottle or a commode. That was no quality of life for a 9 yo, so we decided the junk room needed to be converted to a bathroom. Now Toby can have baths safely, he no longer needs his bottle or the commode and has a bathroom that was designed with Toby in mind.

Fri Night Off

Most Fridays I run Karaoke and disco in the gym for the Boarders. However, tonight we are hosting a inter-school special needs basketball friendly in the gym, so no karaoke tonight.

Kyle is on late / sleep in at work and Jenny (our live in carer) is having a DVD night with our boys, so I have escaped and gone for a pint down my local.

My boss Karen walked in after I arrived and we are catching up with a bottle of white. (And why not, we both work very hard and we are having a laugh!)

Tommrow, I shall post photos of the bathroom I’ve built for our disabled foster soon. What used to be a  box room full of junk, is now a bright and spacious adapted bathroom!

 

 

 

Asbestos Removal is Finally Over!

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Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel, as phase one of the B Block refurbishment is almost complete, now that all the Asbestos has been removed from the building. Most rooms in B Block had some form of Asbestos, which has has taken just over 4 months to remove.

Sam Says Safety First!

Asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed. In the workplace it is law that your employer has a Asbestos Register, which tells them where there may be Asbestos Containing Substances (ACM’s) and what type of Asbestos it is.

If you think you have accidentally disturbed Asbestos, immediately evacuate the area, then contact your Supervisor or Manager and ask them to check the Asbestos Register.

If it is asbestos you have accidentally disturbed, it may need to be “encapsulated” to make it safe, or it may require removal, by a company who specializes in asbestos removal.

The bottom line is: If you are not sure if there may be asbestos present, check the Asbestos Register, or speak to the Site Manager or who ever is in charge of your building.

The block can now be refurbished and the builders will be moving in on Wednesday, replacing all the electrics, plumbing, floors and ceilings. (Yup it needs mega gutting ans starting again) Hopefully by the end of the summer term, the work will be completed and we will be able to allow pupils into affected classrooms and use the link bridge between J and B Blocks.

In the summer hols, my army of helpers will be cleaning B Block and putting the rooms back together. (as well as Unit Deep Cleans) We do a deep clean on each unit within a day, which is remarkable. This includes steam cleaning all surfaces, including the carpets , removing rubbish, deep cleaning of lounges, offices, bathrooms, corridors, kitchens, changing of curtains (dirties go down to the laundry etc.)

Stay tuned for updates!

How to Empty Your School Indoor Pool

Sometimes it’s essential that you completely drain your school’s indoor pool. In our case, the pool needs to be drained so that workmen can erect scaffolding, to replace the swimming pool lighting. This guide is not the same as an outdoor pool winter closing down procedure, as we will be completely emptying the pool of water. Winterising involves blowing out the return pipes and emptying the sand filter. Neither are needed in this case.

The first job is to use your pool net to remove any objects that may be in the pool. I would also recommend using your pool vac, to clean the bottom of the pool before we empty it. Next, I removed the baskets from the pool skimmers. removing the baskets isn’t mandatory but I removed them anyway. Our next thing to do is to work in the plant room, to physically drain as much of the water as possible. This uses the floor drain in the deep end of the pool.

OK, now we are in the Plant Room, where all the tech that keeps the pool in order is kept. Most pool Plant Rooms look a bit like the image below. It is the beating heart of the pool, cleaning and  maintaining the water, 24 hours a day. The Plant Room usually has the pump, the large sand filters, the heater and alot of pipework.

Swimming Pool Plant Room

Our first job is to shut down the heater. Depending how your system heats the water will depend on how you shut your heating system off. Ours is gas, so as well as switching off the heating system, I also switched off the gas isolation cock as well. As we are working on a indoor pool, which won’t be empty for long, (about a week) there is no need to drain down the boiler. Now we can get the pool emptied.

Now go to your pump and at the side of it, you need to close the valve to the return pipe for the pool. You will also need to open the drain valve for the pool as well. In our case, the swimming pool drain goes into the main drains, so we do not need to connect a hose.

Your pump should have a setting called “drain”, you need to turn the controller on the pump to this position, to drain the pool. If your pump does not have a drain setting, switch it to “backwash” instead. I also opened the inspection chambers as well to make sure the pool is draining correctly. any water left in the return pipes will drain out into the pool, during this process. The water level should now of completely dropped, but there may be some residue of water around the drain. I use a hard brush to make this go down the drain, once the cover is removed. Now go back to your plant room, switch off the pump, close the drain cock. The pool return valve should remain closed, to prevent water from the filter entering the pool while work is carried out. I also Lockout-Tagout the main switch for the plant room, to prevent anyone switching on the power to the plant room, while the pool is empty.

Finally, I have put a sign on the doors to the pool area, saying that the pool is closed. As entry to the pool is via PACS System, I used a chain around the handles of the door and attached a padlock, to make sure no one can get in, while the pool is out of use.

And that’s it, one emptied pool. Once the work is completed, (in 1 – 2 weeks time) I will do a guide on filling and setting up the pool.

Laundry Machine Maintenance

So today is the the day that I put all the washing machines in the School Laundry on a self clean. Remember, our school washing machines are going 24 hours a day, Monday – Friday and every evening on weekends. The machines get their fare share of wear and tear, washing over Ten Thousand items a week! that’s is why I maintain the school washing machines on a monthly basis and the dryers on a weekly basis.  (Remember, our machines are large capacity commercial machines and not like the ones you have at home.

My monthly itinerary for laundry maintenance is as follows:

Washing Machines (monthly)

  • Run the machines on a 60°c cycle with Washing Machine Cleaner in the drum
  • Clean the filter and the propeller
  • Inspect and clean the seals around the door
  • Clean the Dosing System
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

Tumble Dryer (weekly)

  • Empty the Lint Tray
  • Clean the outlet from the drum and the external outlet from the machines
  • Clean the drum, door and porthole

OK, lets crack on…

My first job is to switch off the pumps behind the machines. (So it doesn’t dose laundry detergent and Conditioner) Then I put Miele Dishwasher & Washing Machines Cleaner into the drum. (It’s a powder so it is quite easy to use.) Finally, I put the machines onto a 60°c cycle and leave it to it.

Meanwhile, I turn my attention to the dryers. They also must be maintained weekly, to prevent a buildup of fluff, that can cause a fire. To do this, I remove the side panel and pull out the fittings the lint traps sit in. Once it is removed, I can manually remove the fluff for disposal. I also shove the pole for the Henry in there and give the area round the outlet as well. I also clean the inside of the drum on each machine, using a cloth and a spray bottle of disinfectant.

Once the washing machines  have finished, (which is around 45 mins) I put a bowl in front of the machine and open the filter flap. (Be careful if you are cleaning the filter, as water will pour out! It is best to use a old washing up bowl for this job) It is amazing what gets clogged ion the filter, I have found gum, hair, paperclips and even a few 20p’s. (I put these into the School Charity Box) Opening the flap, lets loads of water out of the machine and is why I have a large bowl below it.

It’s easy to remove the filter, just twist and pull to release it from it’s compartment. To clean it, I take the filters to the sink in the laundry room and use a stiff brush and running water to clear the filters. Pushing my bowl aside, I then use my Mag-light to  inspect the drain pump propeller. Using a screwdriver, I check the blades can turn and that nothing behind it is blocking the pump. (By using a screwdriver to yank out any debris. Next, in between the rubber seals in the drum gets a clean with a old toothbrush and disinfectant. It also allows me to inspect the seals for signs of perishing.

Time to re-assemble… So first I push the filter back into it’s compartment and check it is in fully. (Push and twist, then close the flap) Once I have cleaned up, I inspect the pumps behind the washing machines; which dose and pump the detergent and conditioner into the machines. Remember: Safety First,  switch off the pumps first. I unscrew the front panel of the pumps and inspect the pump mechanisms. If they are clogged up, a can of compressed air and a screwdriver to remove the gunk. Finally, I give the motors a good lubricating with WD40, before replacing the cover and screws. 

Finally, after cleaning the glass and the aluminum doors, I attach a sticker which has the word “I am Clean” and the date the machine was cleaned.

It is a good idea to clean your machine every month. After a month, the machine will begin to smell and will make your clothes smell. Also it is essential to keep the lint tray clear on your dryer, otherwise; it may catch fire! The machines at school automatically switch themselves off when the lint tray is full and will not start until the lint tray is emptied. 

However, the dryers that you have in your home are not Commercial Tumble Dryers, like the ones we have at school. (We have 8 Commercial washing machines and 6 dryers) So your lint trap is usually inside the door. For your sake and your family’s sake, do not forget to check the lint trap; before you switch on your dryer on. (Kyle and I do every time we start the dryer) A fire can kill and cause severe damage, so before it is too late, check the lint trap!

Well that didn’t take long…

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3 of our  Gas Boilers

So with the end of April almost here and my birthday around the corner, it was time to switch the boilers off for the summer. 2 of the heating boilers, (We have 4 heating boilers for the main school buildings and 2 for J Block) are shut down at the end of April, until (usually) mid-September. However, I normally leave the 2 heating boilers for J Block switched on,  until the end of may, due to the evenings being rather chilly.

However, the day I switch off the heating always causes problems, as I have Teachers and Teaching Assistants go up in arms because the heating is switched off. Our head,  (Karen) got bombarded with staff complaints at lunchtime, even though an email had been sent to all staff, stating the heating was being switched off, but I am leaving 2 of the main school boilers lit, just in-case the weather turned colder and that the Residential Block (Junior House) boilers would also remain lit and would still have heat for 2 hours every morning and every evening.

I also made it quite clear that I would also be monitoring the weather and the decision to switch the heating back on, would be dependant on the weather.  I wish they would stop moaning, it has been a really nice day today and certainly not warm enough for the heating. Granted, this evening it has got rather chilly, so I have put mine on at home.  Also, over at the school, I have switched on the underfloor heating in the Sports Hall, as the borders are using it this evening.

Hot water is supplied through massive water tanks, which are gas-fired and are separate to the heating boilers.

Often, I wonder if the Teachers have nothing better to do than complain! I don’t see admin or care staff complaining though, they seemed alright with it! 🙂

 

Blocked Drains and Leaking Water Mains

So it started with an emergency call out to D Block to backed up toilets. The plunger didn’t sort the problem so got my drain rods n rodded the drains. I hit a blockage I was unable to pull up and out, so I called Dynorod who used better tools than I had, plus a camera. We found out the drains are collapsing and further down the pipe, erosion has caused rust which catches stuff as it passes down the pipe. (I will let your imagination work that one out) Dynorod cleared the pipe so the loos now flush and don’t back up!

Later, I got a call regarding a water leak in the canteen. Water was coming up through the floor in the kitchen. I attended and tried to turn off the water at the stopcock but it was well and truly jammed! WD40, a pair of mole grips and a hammer didn’t solve this problem, so I had to phone the water board to come and switch it off at their stop valve in the loading Bay.  Sadly I could not get to it as it was buried under a load of soil and we do not have the special key to turn the valve. After the water was shut off, I went to the supermarket for bottles of water for the kitchen. I then had to remove metal units from the floor and dig a bit to expose the pipe to repair it. I’ve filled the hole and fixed the lino. Thankfully the leak was in the washup area and not the main kitchen!!  After that, I got my wet and dry up and sucked up the water, which had flooded the floor.

I’ve been told that the floor does not need digging up, they can use a flexible liner of some sort and a balloon. Sounds a bit dodgy to me, though if the floor in D block does have to come up it will cause chaos, thanks to that awful substance called ASBESTOS!!!! The floor tiles contain it and are currently safe as they are not disturbed. (In the changing rooms) it could see D block shut for over a week, which means closing the swimming pool while the changing rooms have the asbestos removed. That will not be cheap and could cause problems.

Deep Cleaning

 

What is Deep Cleaning? Well, Deep Cleaning is when we do a more thorough and more intensive clean of part of the buildings. This could be a classroom, a communal area, a office or on one of the boarding units.  Full deep cleans of the entire site are carried out every summer, once the end of the summer term arrives and is planned way in advance.  During the Easter Break, we do a partial deep clean of the communal areas in Junior House, Sick Bay and the gym and Swimming Pool Changing Rooms.

We use stronger chemicals than are used during term time. These are either Germicidal Cleaners, which are extremely destructive to pathogenic microorganisms, steam, (Which is another way of killing pathogens) Finally, there is good old Sodium Hypochlorite, aka Bleach. Bleach is rarely used. However, there are some situations where I need to use it. (Tonight for example) 

A couple of the Junior Boarders have caught the Noro Virus, (Sickness and Diarrhoea bug) and have been taken to Sick Bay. (They are both being barrier nursed in side rooms) So their rooms have had to be deep cleaned, which involved using a diluted Bleach solution:

  • Removing and changing the curtains
  • Removing and changing all bedding
  • Wiping down the walls, window sills, ceiling, skirting boards, beds, mattresses, wardrobes, light fittings, window frames, light switches, sockets and door handles
  • Steam cleaning the carpet

The toilet they had both used, which includes:

  • Using a diluted Bleach solution, Wiping down the walls, cubical partitions, cubical doors, ceiling, window sills, window frames, sinks, toilets, pipes, bins, tiles and light fittings
  • Mop the floor and remove slurry with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner.

Once I had completed the deep clean, I took the buckets to the Sluice room and washed them out using boiling water and  Germicidal Cleaner. I also washed the inside of the wet and dry out in the same way and also the hose and head. I took the boys bedding and curtains, idrty clothes and all the cloths I had used and the mop heads to the laundry, in red infected laundry bags. (They will be washed in separates machines to the normal laundry and will be washed on a “hot wash cycle”. Finally, the apron, gloves and foot protectors used went into the clinical waste bin in the sluice room.

After 8pm, we do not have any housekeepers on site, so it was up to me to get the job done. It is not nice working with runny poo, believe me! 😦

Karaoke Kapers (With a touch of of Black Velvet)

I have got to admit, Saturday night was the best night I have ever had as a DJ! Not only did we have some fantastic singers, but everyone got up and started dancing and joining in, as you can see in the below video, taken by one of the Punters! (A few of them got together and were singing Alanah Miles – Black Velvet)

It just goes to say, “karaoke is not about if you can sing or not, it’s about having fun and making an arse of yourself in the process!” (As you will see, around a minute into the video!) The Punters were, however, quite rat-arsed by 11:30, as Karaoke, went very very camp, but the 80s tracks being sung were brilliant and had everyone dancing and singing and the landlady dancing on the bar!)

I love the pub I DJ in, it has great customers, friendly staff and a landlady who is mad as a hatter, but you gotta love her really!

Thank you to everyone who made Saturday night so epic, let’s hope we can do the same this weekend!